The Keys of Marinus

The Keys of Marinus

The Screaming Jungle

Fuck yeah, I just today found out I like things that shouldn’t scream but do. Upon arrival, Susan is immediately triggered by a loud forest which is about as interesting as this episode gets. This is a bit like the first episode in that it’s largely okay but taunts the viewer with some decent sci-fi ideas that are ignored in favour of characters doing nothing of consequence. Susan freaks and then does what she seems to do best, not explain a basic phenomena. She heard a thing, nobody else heard it, and yet she stammers through an explanation like they aren’t an alien and some humans time travelling about the place. This, “I don’t believe the thing I’ve been told even though we’re on a magical alien world” thing is so prevalent in these early episodes I’m now keeping an eye out for when it stops as it will be the first fucking time. She hears screaming, could be trees, could be psychics, god knows but don’t confuse this mission with information that could help anyone in any way.

I mean, seriously, if you and me went on space adventures and saw wild shit each week, would you not believe me if I said I heard phantom screaming? What the fuck? A fortnight ago we were fighting Nazi Car People and today psychic shrieks are a yard too far? Fuck you. I’m kicking you out of my space adventures.

Nothing happens and Barbara finds a statue to the God of Fondling which she naturally approaches. Upon inspection, it has one of the keys around it’s neck! Obviouslyatrapocetl, the Mezo-Marinian god of grabbing sweet ass, feels this disruption and gently grabs Barbara before rotating around like every wall, relief, and statue has done in this show so far. I had no idea how often this trope gets used in Who until now. Jesus. Ian, Gaunto the Positive, Susan, and Sabetha all rush to the scene and find the the key but no Barbara. Thinking they’ve one key, Susan and Gaunto head to the next location, while Ian and Sabetha realize that their key is a fake. This forces Ian to remain and search for Barbara, even though there’s the chance she’s used her teleporter to skip ahead too.

Real hands. They just used real hands.

Ian prays to Obviouslyatrapocetl and winds up in a kind of Sen’s Fortress of goofy traps that would only be dangerous to the catatonic. There are some great moments here, including some classic “trying to look like I can’t break these polystyrene bars” and a trap room that threatens Barbara with chicken feet.

Turns out the place is run by a Socrates cosplayer. The old guy questions Barbara and heads off to confirm her story by checking the settings on the teleporter. On the way, he gets attacked by… A VINE! The screaming trees are waking up! And he’s choked to that weird kind of TV death where you’ve no visible injuries but there’s some stat effect slowly lowering your HP. He has the real key but of course, rather than say it’s in a jar, he cryptically tells Ian what is on the jar’s label forcing the pair to search about his room while a forest tries to molest them.

Must… gasp… puzzle!

There’s no real threat here and only some lip service payed to why the forest is angry. This episode is a good point of comparison to the last one to work out when Nation’s “and then a thing happened” works and doesn’t, and it comes down to how thin the connecting tissue of the events is. The HYPNO BRAINS were a coherent part of a basic idea, a fools paradise, and were brief but adequately supported by everything that we saw. The hypnosis idea was established early and required no long exposition because he leverages off the sci-fi tropes to make us subconsciously fill in the gaps. Zombie Ian and other elements of the narrative come prepackaged with the HYPNO BRAINS so everything feels more connected than the episode has shown. The sinister mystery of The Velvet Web was apparent from the start and so the build to Barbara smashing brains was a nice 20 minutes with a definite and dramatic conclusion. The Screaming Jungle establishes an idea but then abandons it for 10 minutes, only to have Ian rush through a vague explanation about “the tempo of destruction” meaning the plants are coming to wreck shit. That the climax is some faux vegetation being massaged onto the set ending in a jump cut teleport effect out of danger renders the whole screaming forest idea less a satisfying narrative and more a pitch someone forgot to flesh out.

Nation’s domino effect plots are fine when the dominoes are either close enough to each other that they knock the next or are connected with something like a leveraged audience expectation. Those dominoes are cool to watch. Here, he knocks two over, then comes back a few minutes later and just kicks down the rest. It’s a boring display.

This is all happening on one planet, too. Hypno brains, a murder forest, and next episode’s most diabolical villain yet, a hillbilly rapist!

The Snows of Terror

The snows aren’t the terror. This is classic Doctor Who titling, noun of adjective, even if they’re unrelated. It’s just a mountain where it’s snowing. The snow doesn’t eat you or anything, in fact, there’s very little interesting about this episode at all besides some stock footage of wolves and that a more accurate title would have been Barbara vs Rape-Hagrid. There are two antagonists here, a mountain dweller who can’t be trusted and a room where the Key is kept which looks exactly like that one from Resident Evil 4 where the parasites were riding around in old-timey armour. I don’t know if this episode exists because they blew out the budget on fake leaves but this whole bit screams “filler”. The whole story is this: crew teleport to snowy mountain and meet hillbilly Vasor, hillbilly Vasor lies, is caught, lies again, is caught again. He tricks Ian into going out into the snow after Altos carrying a bag of raw meat to draw wolves. While this is happening, he threatens Barbara with a vague something that kids wouldn’t pick up on and parents would recognize as being his rapin’ hole. This episode is all the filler bits of the other ones, where characters think aloud but don’t otherwise grow or do anything, sandwiched together with a sexually aggressive Robert Barathion lookalike. Ian gets Vasor to take them to the cave of Resident Evil, they get the key, this activates Ice Soldiers, they get back to the cabin in spite of Vasor and then he’s killed by the Ice Soldiers as the crew teleport away.

Vasor horny

Remember Das Bus that kind of stupid, Lord of the Flies based Simpsons episode where Bart and Lisa are trying to help Milhouse escape the mob but he keeps fucking them over? That but with a Key and Milhouse is run through with a sword in the end. So better than Das Bus.

He’s a mountain man who lives in a cabin, it’s either rape or Tinder and Marinus don’t have no Tinder. NEXT EPISODE!

One Reply to “The Keys of Marinus”

  1. Y’know, I’m really craving some crappy old Doctor Who now. Maybe I’ll settle for some b-movies from the same time. Very well written as always, Gabe!

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